The New Year and Christmas holiday season is the perfect time to sample holiday beers. Drinking beer on Christmas and New Year is a tradition of creating a special, festive mood, and the taste of Christmas beer should give a sense of a fairy tale.
The New Year and Christmas holiday season is the perfect time to sample holiday beers. Christmas beer may seem like a marketing ploy designed to cash in on beer lovers’ holiday alcoholic drink, but it’s actually been around as part of the holiday season for over a thousand years. Thus, beer on Christmas days is a special tradition that goes far back in history.
The History of Christmas Beer
The tradition of drinking beer at Christmas, like many other beer-related customs, dates back to the Vikings. Thus, the tradition of Christmas beer begins in pre-Christian Scandinavia. The Vikings brewed winter beer during “July” (the Scandinavian Christmas holiday) at the end of December to honor the Norse gods and the winter solstice. As far back as the 900s, “July” was used by the Vikings to designate both holidays and the strong beer they brewed at that time.
Beer during the Christmas period was so important to Scandinavian culture that some laws actually required citizens to create Christmas beer in honor of new deities and celebrate the holiday. Failure to do so could result in a fine or even confiscation of property.
Early Christmas beer was usually dark and malty. The tradition of making Christmas beer continued over time, even as Christmas replaced the July holidays and the Vikings settled in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. So Scandinavian immigrants spread their brewing techniques and created a brown winter Christmas beer. In the years that followed, the tradition spread across Europe, becoming popular in many places where beer was drunk and Christmas was celebrated.
The commercial production of Christmas beer from Scandinavia developed significantly in the late 19th and early 20th century, a tradition that continues today, supported by contemporary Scandinavian brewers.
Meanwhile, countries across Europe began to create their own versions of the celebratory drink. For example, special Christmas beers were known to commercial brewers in 19th century Britain. There and now, beer on Christmas days is a favorite tradition. For example, the now-famous El Burton is what Young’s Winter Warmer originally was, and it tasted sweeter and stronger than its modern counterpart.
Stella Artois, the famous Belgian lager, actually debuted as a Christmas beer in 1926. The word “stella”, which means “star” in Latin, was intended to refer to the Christmas star. Samichlaus is one of the most popular Christmas beers of our time. This drink appeared in 1980 in Zurich.
Today, almost all beers brewed during the holiday season are sold as Christmas beers, and many breweries offer their own seasonal holiday beers. However, typically traditional Christmas beer remains dark and malty with hints of cinnamon or cloves.
Christmas Beer Features and Best Options
You can see the name “Christmas ale” on beer cans decorated with Christmas trees and a winking Santa Claus. But what exactly makes a Christmas ale suitable for such a name to appear on the label? This is not only a long history of the creation and development of the drink, but also the use of special spices and a unique taste.